Health not a problem this fall

Going into the season opener last season, it was hard to differentiate between Florida’s injury list and the roster.

Every fluke injury felt like it was followed by another. If it wasn’t starting quarterback Jeff Driskel needing an emergency appendectomy, it was Andre Debose tearing his ACL while running a route on a non-contact play. Then starting running back Matt Jones got a viral infection that forced him to miss most of fall camp. Right tackle Chaz Green tore his labrum and was forced to miss the season.

A year ago, Will Muschamp needed to sit down and get comfortable while reading over the lengthy injury report. On Wednesday’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, the injury report took seven words.

Marcus Maye is still day-to-day,” Muschamp said.

The end.

What a difference a year makes. Even Maye’s hamstring injury isn’t considered serious, and the Florida coaches have been optimistic all week that he will be able to play when Florida opens the season against Idaho on Saturday at 7 p.m. The entire depth chart is healthy, and the only player that suffered a season-ending injury in fall camp was freshman defensive tackle Thomas Holley, who was likely to redshirt even before the injury occurred.

“Much different from where we were a year ago,” Muschamp said on Wednesday. “I’ve never been anything like that last year as far as the things we had to travel through and the adversity we faced. I know this team has gelled and come together in the right way. We have a very good, strong work ethic. This is a very close-knit group that’s been fun to be around. A lot of fun on the practice field, in the meeting rooms, enjoying the breaks and the different things we did during training camp. It’s been a very fun team to be around.”

The clean bill of health was the most important thing for Florida to have as it exits game week preparation and begins the season on Saturday. But there are still things that concern Muschamp about Saturday, simply because he hasn’t seen experienced player show it in games yet.

It starts with the young secondary. Vernon Hargreaves III is the only player that has shown it on the field consistently. Keanu Neal had a great camp,

“We’re very young in the secondary,” Muschamp said. “We’re probably going to take us a couple, two, three games to figure out which one of those guys are mature enough to run out and play in the Swamp in from of 90,000 people with the communication it’s going to take to be successful.”

The offensive line and defensive line depth has improved throughout camp, but the coaches continue to emphasize that it doesn’t matter until they show it on the field. Saturday provides that first opportunity.

Finally, there’s a new offense that always provides an adjustment in the first game. The coaches have tried their best to simulate a game day atmosphere in fall camp, but it’s often hard to make things similar to what they’ll experience inside The Swamp.

Procedural issues haven’t been much of an issue during the fall, but things can change when games start.

“I think we’ve functioned extremely well,” Muschamp said. “There hasn’t been a lot of procedure issues, substitution issues. We’ve done a really nice job handling those things. Anytime you’re going out there new, it’s a little different, but I think we’ve put ourselves on those situations to prepare our staff for when those things come up on game day as far as making the game day adjustments to be successful.”

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